Tag Archives: Old Trafford

10 Reasons why we will beat Everton + Starting XI

1.. Chesney is on a run of 4 clean sheets in a row, of course this isn’t just down to him but when called on he really is on point this season.

2.. Carl Jenkinson, I’m getting a bit bored with people slagging him off, I like him and not just because his family are big Arsenal fans but of course that helps. The Ball he put in for our first goal against Hull was inch perfect, he didn’t put a foot wrong all night. Yes he is no Sagna and they are big boots to fill but I urge people to look at his work rate and how much he is improving before taking the easy route of he’s not good enough.

3.. Gibbs, nice to see Wenger use rotation wisely mid week and yeah Monreal had a good game but Gibbs (another boyhood Arsenal fan) should be back today and refreshed. We are blessed right now to have good cover in both full-back positions.

4.. Arteta, To be fair he gave his best years to Everton and if it wasn’t for Fabregas doing a bunk we would never of signed him but I’m glad we did. He has grown into the defensive midfield role as well has keeping his natural urge to play sexi football. He will want to put in a performance against his former side.

5.. Everton, will not be a pushover, sitting pretty in 5th having just won at Old Trafford and with a new manager whose taking a chance with some exciting young players.

6.. Everton’s Prem record – Played 14, won 7, drawn 6, lost 1,the fewest in the Prem. But they have lost 14 of the last 17 visits to us.

7.. Giroud will be back after being rested mid-week, thank god as his replacement wasn’t upto much and clearly wasn’t even fit enough to last more than 70mins in a game we dominated.

8.. Ozil, it’s almost getting to the stage where I hope he looks quiet as he is always so deceiving, one moment it looks like he hasn’t touched the ball in ages the next he is slotting a ball in and bang, goal.

9. Theo, again I can see him starting on the bench, but I want him back and on form. Let me remind you that last season in the Prem he scored 14 goals and had 13 assists, that’s a goal or an assist every 84 mins he played and more or less all from the right side of the pitch.

10.. Wenger knows – we have a run of 4 tricky games starting with today but 6 points in our next 3 Prem games will see us sitting on top whilst we all tuck into our turkey this year.

Likely starting XI – Chesney, Jenks, BFG, Kos, Gibbs, Arteta, Ramsey, Jack, Santi, Ozil, Giroud

GC

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The Arsenal and Me – Jack’s Story

Most people to claim to have loved their club from day one, I do not. Don’t get me wrong I’ve always supported Arsenal there was no choice, from the day I was born my Dad would have it no other way. It’s all I knew. But at first I didn’t quite get it.

My earliest football memory is laying on my Nan’s living room floor watching the 98 Cup Final on TV. The image of Anelka and Overmars walking around the Wembley pitch with the FA Cup is not one I’ll ever forget. Good times, but at the age of 7 I still didn’t really get what it was all about.

Fast forward just under 3 years and I was to attend my first Arsenal game. Away to Man United. At Old Trafford in the HOME end of all places. Not ideal if I’m honest. 25th February 2001, I always remember the date as it was my sisters Birthday and she obviously was unimpressed that me and my Dad were disappearing to Manchester for the day.

We left early that morning and made the long car journey there. As you can imagine Old Trafford as a 10 year old is a quite a daunting place to watch your first ever football match especially surrounded by 60,000 Mancs. Like I said, not ideal. I remember it being bitterly cold and within two minutes we’re one nil’ down. Now the plan was to try to blend in within the home end so obviously we’re the only two sitting down two minutes in. Cover blown. Then, 14 minutes in. Henry equalises! My first experience of joy and excitement at an Arsenal game. My Dad trying to keep the celebrations low key, there wasn’t really any point as we were losing again almost instantly. It all went downhill from there and we got absolutely battered 6-1. I seem to remember Stephanovs running down the wing during that game and even at 10 years old even I knew he belonged nowhere near a team like Arsenal.

After the game we met the woman who sorted out the tickets. She asked in a thick Manchester accent if I was going to become a United fan now. I was slow to answer as I didn’t have a clue what she was saying so my Dad was quick to jump in. “No. No he isn’t”

I was a bit gutted after the game not as much as my Dad as clearly losing 6-1 at my first ever game was not what he imagined would happen.

So after that I’m still struggling to see what the fuss is about.

The next game I went two was Liverpool. Again away from home again absolutely freezing cold and again stuck in the home end! I’d won tickets so couldn’t really complain. 23rd December 2001 another date I remember strangely my Dads birthday this time. This time however everything went well we played well and won 2-1. I remember Freddie scoring and running off into the away fans and being insanely jealous of them. This time there we’re know muted celebrations, the full time whistle goes and we went for it! Swiftly leaving afterwards.

Now I had the taste for this ‘going to the football’ lark. I couldn’t wait for the next time.

The first home game I went to was against Blackburn the following season, I can’t remember the date (can’t have been anyones birthday). The whole family went this time. Me my Dad my Mum and my Sister. I was so buzzing for it. We got the tube to Arsenal and walked along  Gillespie road. The first thing I noticed was the smell, burger vans/horse shit/beer,  doesn’t sound nice but its a smell that I’m sure everyone recognises every time you go to football and it always reminds me of that day. We turned the corner on to Avenell Road and I saw Highbury up close for the very first time. A lot of people say they fell in love with Highbury instantly and this time I agree. What a place. Seeing the windows on the side of the North Bank and seeing people finding there seats gave me goosebumps and excited butterflies inside. I wanted to get inside quickly. When we found our spot on this North Bank I couldn’t stop looking all around at this amazing ground. As a young kid it is mesmerising you just try to take it all in.

The game kicked off and we were one nil down early on from a strange Edu own goal. But then later in the half he made it all right by scoring the equaliser. I’ll never forget that goal, the first time I celebrated an Arsenal goal at a game amongst the right fans! It was mental. The noise was deafening and I’m pretty sure I ended up a few seats along.

We went on to lose 2-1 I was disappointed but everything about that day bar the result was spot on. The smells, the sights, hearing the outbursts of chants from all around Highbury, joining in and finally being at a home game.

All of these things finally making me realise what it was all about and making me fall in love with The Arsenal. Something that I will never stop doing, I still get the same excited butterflies every time I go and I hope I always do and I hope when I have a son its exactly the same for him.

I think i’ll avoid United away for his first game though…

Jack

If you would like to tell your Arsenal story, click here

Highbury Classics Vol 2 – The Arsenal Vs Southampton May 1992

ARSENAL v SOUTHAMPTON – MAY 1992

Great game to end an era

It’s not often that you walk away from a 5-1 victory with a feeling of sadness to go with the joy. But for thousands of Arsenal fans a sense of loss dominated a wonderful final game of the 1991-92 season. It was the last ever game of the beloved North Bank terrace which had been a place to stand and watch football for decades. The Taylor Report was soon to dictate law and top flight clubs would have to replace the standing areas with seats. After the game, a few thousand fans stayed behind for a couple of hours to remain in the old terrace for a little bit longer. Fight Sing where ever you may be – we are the North Bank Highbury was the chant heard two hours after the game, as the last fans left the stadium after a solemn sit in.

As for the match itself, there were two main focuses of attention. Firstly a win was necessary so that the old North Bank could go out in style. Secondly, there was a chance that Ian Wright could end up the league’s top goal scorer. At the start of the day he was one goal behind Tottenham’s Gary Lineker and Spurs were playing away at Old Trafford. If Lineker were to get just one goal, then Wright would need a repeat of the hat trick that he’d at scored against the Saints earlier in the season.

At Highbury in May 1992 the first half of Arsenal-Southampton was quiet and goalless, with the main highlight being a disallowed goal from Wright which looked like a harsh decision. The second half however, was symbolic of the final third of the season. Up to February, Arsenal had been inconsistent and had put up a weak defence of the title. Then everything came together with a 7-1 thrashing of a strong Sheffield Wednesday side; six of the goals coming in the space of just 20 minutes. From that point onwards Arsenal would remain unbeaten and put in a late challenge to finish third and gain a European spot. It may have been too late to get back in the title picture but Arsenal’s rampage on the final three months of the season was thrilling. In contradiction to reputation, George Graham’s team were capable of playing free flowing entertaining football, with Limpar, Merson, Wright, Rocastle, Campbell and Smith providing a formidable attacking force. If there was a fault with the 1991-92 team then it was the leaky defence. Overall they conceded 46 league goals, whereas the season before only 18 goals went past one of the meanest defences in English football history.

The walloping of Southampton began when Kevin Campbell scored from a header for his 14th goal of the season. A few minutes later and was back to square one – Glenn Cockerel scored from a Le Tissier cross to put the Saints level. Arsenal reacted quickly and Paul Merson made a run into the box and was brought down to earn a penalty. Lee Dixon would normally have taken the kick, but Wright was after the Golden boot and allowed to step up and score his 27th league goal of the season. Just like Kevin Campbell had done with the opener, Alan Smith also scored a header from a corner to for his 17th goal of the season. 3-1. Smith and Campbell had combined brilliantly as a striking partnership the previous year to help Arsenal win the league title for a tenth time. In 1990-91, Smith would earn the second golden boot of his career, but on this afternoon with the clock ticking down, it looked unlikely that his team mate Wright would achieve the same honour. With 90 minutes gone, Wrighty was still one goal behind Lineker who had managed to score for Spurs at Old

Trafford. Wright’s chances of becoming top goal league scorer in his debut Arsenal season depended on two goals in injury time. It was a farfetched dream, but for the last ever game of the North Bank terrace a miracle happened. David Seaman leaped to catch an incoming cross and fed the ball to the deadly striker. From deep in his own half Wrighty ran on goal, beat a couple of defenders and smashed the ball into the bottom corner of the Saints goal. Seaman said afterwards that he normally would have just let the ball go out for a goal kick, but in the last split second he decided to catch it and keep the ball in play. Wright was level with Lineker, but the icing on the cake hadn’t been spread just yet. A minute later, Alan Smith and Kevin Campbell made a surge into the penalty box. The ball found its way to Wright who scuffed it with his shin to make it 5-1. Of all Wright’s 29 league goals that season, it was by far the luckiest and the worst – but also the most satisfying. The North Bank went truly ballistic. Campbell lifted Wright on his shoulders in a joyous celebration that was as messy as the goal. Not only did Ian Wright win the golden boot, but Arsenal would also be the league’s top scorers. Incredibly, despite being the most lethal and exciting striker in the country, Ian Wright was not picked by Graham Taylor for the England squad that went to Euro 92. In three lacklustre games in Euro 92 England would score just the one goal which was in contrast to the Arsenal attacking force of the 1991-92 campaign. It may not have been a trophy winning season, and in the end we didn’t even achieve a European spot. But the North Bank terrace was more important than any piece of silver wear – and the attacking performances and great goals in the final games of the season were a wonderful send off. Arsenal-Southampton was a perfect conclusion to a beloved era of history. The old North Bank had seen some great moments over the decades and this Highbury classic was up there with some of the best.

Matthew Bazell

Matthew Bazell is the author of Theatre of Silence: The Lost Soul of Football

TOS

Old North Bank